Water is something so ordinary and accessible in our 21st century microwave society that we rarely think of its necessity to life. However, every day almost one billion people in the world go without clean drinking water. In the Bible, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine, turning something ordinary into something extraordinary. Well, Doc Hendley, a bartender and musician from North Carolina, has endeavored to carry out a bit of an opposite task by turning wine into water. In 2004, his dream of making a difference and providing clean drinking water to those less fortunate began to grow as he travelled to Darfur, Sudan to get clean water to the victims of the genocide that had occurred. However, his efforts did not end when he returned to the United States, but developed into his organization known as, Wine to Water, which seeks to provide clean drinking water to the less fortunate of the world. Hendley has been featured on various news sources and was named a CNN Hero in 2009.
Hendley recounts his experiences in Sudan that led to the development of his organization in his moving biographical book appropriately named, Wine to Water, which was chosen as Jacksonville State University’s 2012 Summer Read. Since 2010, the Summer Reading Program at Jacksonville State University has selected a book to be the Summer Read. This is a program open to anyone interested, but is generally geared toward freshmen, as the book will be studied in all freshman English classes and discussed in Freshman Forum and the C.O.C.K.Y. Experience.
Generally, the Summer Reading Program selects a book that will unite students, give them a broader perspective of the world, and teach them that life is not just about the knowledge gained in the classroom, but it is also about taking the knowledge learned and using it to make a positive impact in the world. Doc Hendley’s gripping account undoubtedly does all of this and more.
Angela Marino, a JSU GO Leader and public relations major, says that Wine to Water is “about making a difference and I that’s something I think everyone should do. I think it can really motivate students and at the same time, it is really interesting.”
For JSU Public Relations Specialist, Angie Finley, the book was a “reality check” and she suggests that the book should not be limited to just freshmen, but should be read by everyone on campus. She states, “It sharpened my vision when it comes to the world and it reminded me that, while we may like to generate Internet memes about 'first world problems' on Facebook and argue topics like politics and religion, the reality is that there is a whole sea of humanity beyond our borders for whom life's most basic need-- clean drinking water-- is not being met.”
Wine to Water states that their goal is “To allow Jesus to turn His miracle [of water into wine] around for the needy people of this world. It is our prayer that Jesus Christ will use those of us who have plenty to help provide someone who is less fortunate with the gift of clean water” (www.winetowater.com). This goal is reminiscent of Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 10:42, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (ESV). Wine to Water is evidence that giving something that may seem as simple in our first world society as a cup of water can have a lasting impact and mean the difference between life and death for one billion people in the world.
On Tuesday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m., Doc Hendley will be speaking to students at the Leone Cole Auditorium at JSU about his book and his organization. He will be signing copies of Wine to Water, which will be available for purchase that night. Admission is free and this event will be open to anyone interested. For more information about this event, please visit: www.jsu.edu.
By Heather Greene, a graduate assistant in the Office of Public Relations